5 Content Marketing Tips To Grow Your eCommerce Business
On the whole, it’s an excellent time to be an online seller. The eCommerce industry has been able to keep going during the COVID-19 pandemic without too much disruption.
Sure, the supply chain has encountered a few issues, and demand has shifted due to changing priorities, but it certainly hasn’t gone away. People are spending just as much as they did before.
Every silver lining has its cloud, in any case. Since that good fortune applies to all eCommerce merchants, it’s inspiring a significant influx of new sellers, ramping up the competition and raising so many standards.
That makes it notably harder for any given seller to stand out from the crowd — and it was already hard enough to compete with brands like Amazon.
To grow your eCommerce business, you need a comprehensive strategy that carefully selects products, positions them aptly, and gives rise to superlative customer experiences.
That’s not all, however. You also need to commit to marketing, with content marketing, in particular, being an area that’s worthy of your attention.
If you’re not getting your digital content into the online landscape, you’re missing an outstanding opportunity to pick up new customers.
In this post, then, we’re going to set out five straightforward content marketing tips for using digital assets to support and grow your online retail business. Let’s get to them.
Establish a proper content foundation
For your content marketing to be worthwhile, it needs to be consistent. Many companies follow these content marketing tips but only release content very sporadically: as a result, their efforts prove ineffective at best.
Think of the seller who publishes a solid buyer’s guide, asks readers to come back soon for more high-value information, then fails to follow it up.
Returning to find nothing new might make people less likely to buy instead of simply failing to move the needle.
Before you begin, then, you must establish a strong content foundation. This will allow you to achieve a competitive level of consistency.
Among other things, this means going through the following steps as carefully and comprehensively as you can:
- Defining brand guidelines. What’s your brand’s tone of voice? What do you want your content to look like? Which types of content do you want to use, and which do you want to avoid? Shaping your brand at this point will make everything that follows much easier. If you’re unsure what a set of brand guidelines should look like, search for inspiration online: plenty of huge brands have published theirs for all to see.
Once you have your brand guidelines, of course, you need to mandate their use. There’s no sense in having the document around but failing to do anything with it.
Your processes must ensure that everyone who produces content for your brand (including any freelancers to whom you outsource) must adhere to the content marketing tips and guidelines.
- Choosing a production platform. The content production process is significantly simpler and faster if underpinned by a robust production platform. If you can get one in place and start getting familiar with it, it will save you a lot of time and effort later. Note that it doesn’t need to be immensely sophisticated: Google Workspace is perfectly viable for content collaboration, and most everyone is familiar with Google software.
G2 has a solid roundup of platforms that vary in price and functionality if you want to consider other platforms.
Your goal should be to find the platform that best suits the needs of your team members. Please pay close attention to additional features concerning distribution: they could be instrumental down the line.
- Setting a precise schedule. Great content needs to be figured out ahead of time, which means coming up with a solid schedule. Planning a year is a good option since it allows you to factor in the seasons and ensure sensible coverage of topics. It’s ideal to have a mixture of evergreen (always relevant) and ephemeral (specific to particular times or topics) content because it covers all the bases.
How detailed should you get with your scheduling? That depends on your creative process.
Some people settle for general topics, setting targets like “Write a blog post about affiliate marketing”.
In contrast, others get more specific and list exact titles with word counts and even subheading structures.
Remember that your scheduling must be sustainable, so don’t bite off more than you can chew.
- Allocating responsibilities. Who’ll be responsible for coming up with briefs, creating the content, editing it, and releasing it? To avoid any confusion, set out clearly defined content roles and ensure that everyone knows exactly what’s expected of them. The process of producing content can have many steps, and every holdup has lasting consequences that can lead a project to take far longer than it should.
When you’re looking to fill the required roles, don’t just focus on what people are currently doing.
It’s essential to follow talent and passion as well as experience, particularly for certain forms of content such as video guides: the host of a video will have a significant impact on how it comes across, and you may find that one of your employees who holds an unrelated position (something administrative, perhaps) happens to be highly charismatic on camera.
It isn’t usually enough to have great products and excellent service: after all, many giant retailers can easily outperform you in those areas.
That’s why there’s so much value in turning your brand into an industry authority. If you can show consumers that you have expertise relevant to what you sell, it’ll push them to prize your recommendations (and, ideally, buy from you directly). So how do you do that?
Well, you should undoubtedly run an industry blog and use that to distribute some free content covering business updates, new product trends, and other relevant topics.
If you have some deep insight to offer, though, why not turn it into a secondary source of revenue through selling online courses? (Learning Revolution provides a roundup of viable online course platforms.)
Any money you make through your courses can go back into your business, funding further marketing efforts or general website improvements — and even if you don’t make that much money, you can still use the existence of your courses to bolster your reputation.
Curation is easy, which is why so many people do it, and the production of original content is a mark of prestige.
You can also take the opportunity to reach out to compatible brands and suggest collaboration: you could create even stronger guides together and share in the profits.
Use the skyscraper method to stand out
The skyscraper method is straightforward in principle. You look for the pieces of content that reliably perform well, particularly in the SERPs, and you attempt to beat them.
For instance, if there’s a standout guide on choosing Christmas gifts, you can create a guide that covers all the same points and expands upon them (if only slightly).
This is so effective because you already know what works, so you know that your new content will prove successful if you deliver the necessary quality.
You might have produced the content you’re seeking to build on from scratch, but you can take all of its prompts and provide your answers before tacking on as much as you can.
The goal isn’t to copy the successful content marketing tips. It’s to use its structure as a template.
Suppose you can create a piece of content that’s genuinely better, even if only by the smallest amount, then you legitimately deserve to win the top spot (there’s nothing stopping someone else from attempting to surpass your piece, naturally).
And if you can get a piece of skyscraper content to the top of relevant SERPs, the benefits will be immense. More traffic, more recognition, and more plaudits.
Invest in video guides and showcases
I mentioned choosing the types of content you’re going to use, but you should definitely invest in one type of content: video.
Video content is eye-catching (particularly on social media), far cheaper to make than you might assume, and perfect for showing some worthwhile brand personality.
As we touched upon earlier when discussing the allocation of content production responsibilities, one great way to use video content is to create video guides.
In each guide, you can explain how to use the product, why it’s so great, and anything else a customer would need to know.
That content can then reside on the product page and play a role in your broader marketing efforts. And then there are showcases, which are precisely what you’d think: all you’re trying to do is show your products in action.
If you can make them highly creative and entertaining, you can even gain traction on other websites.
It’s essential to have strong production values, though, so don’t simply take some footage with a smartphone camera and stop there.
At a minimum, you need to know how to frame your shots, how to get the lighting right, and how to check and adjust sound levels, and how to edit the resulting footage, so it moves along at a steady clip.
If you don’t know any video editing, it’s worth taking some courses and generally experimenting with the editors of your choice.
YouTube will prove a massive resource here. Spend some time looking over product guides and showcases from other brands to see which ones performed well. What do the comments say? What do viewers like and dislike?
What can you glean from how the videos are produced, presented, and distributed?
Video production is a significant financial and practical commitment, after all, so it isn’t advisable to wing it and hope for the best.
Distribute content through all viable channels
Lastly, when you’ve gone to the effort of investing so much time, effort and resources in creating excellent content, you need to make the most of it — and that means distributing it through all viable channels.
Take that skyscraper content, for instance.
Instead of simply trusting that your SEO efforts will pay off in the SERPs, you should also promote it via Twitter, Facebook, your website, and even other websites in your niche (those that don’t directly compete with you, at least) through guest posts and even paid placements if you can justify those.
Additionally, don’t just link each piece once because it’s effortless to miss a single post. Instead, continue to promote every piece of content on a semi-regular basis until you’re convinced that you’ve squeezed every drop of value from it.
Some tools can help you with this, with Edgar being a prime example. Queue up some variations on your promotional text and schedule regular posting until all the traffic dries up.
What about when you reach that point? Do you just let the content fade into obscurity? Well, you don’t have to. There are things you can do to spark more life into it. You can, for instance, rework an old piece into a new format.
Take an article and record a podcast version or convert it into a video. Add in a small number of updates, and it’ll be like having fresh content, only with a small fraction of the work that would have gone into a completely new project.
Alternatively, you can stick with the old format and update it for the present day.
If you have a 2019 guide to influencer marketing, why not check through all the listed points, take out any that no longer apply, add in some that are now significant, and retitle it as your 2021 guide?
Since most pieces of advice don’t change from year to year, it makes sense to work this way.
There you have it: five critical content marketing tips for growing your eCommerce business online. If you’re going to do any content marketing, you need to do it properly, so don’t settle for anything less than total commitment.